The United Kingdom is close to lifting a ban on passengers passing through travel hubs in the Middle East such as Doha, Dubai and Istanbul in an attempt to reinvigorate the country’s economy and make it easier for Brits to get to and from other long-haul destinations.
The exemption would apply to ‘Red List’ travel hubs from which Brits travelling home are currently required to quarantine in managed hotel quarantine for 10 days and at a cost of £1,750.
Only fully vaccinated Brits would be allowed to travel through these hubs and the exemption would only apply to passengers who stayed airside during their transit. A general ban on other travellers from these countries is likely to remain in force for the foreseeable future.
Last week, Richard Jewsbury, a divisional vice president for Emirates Airline said he was “frustrated” that the United Arab Emirates remained on the ‘Red List’ despite high vaccination rates in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
The UAE, however, has relied heavily on the Chinese Sinopharm jab for its vaccination programme. The UK currently views this vaccine as second rate and is unwilling to reopen quarantine-free travel to anyone who has received this vaccine.
Health officials in the UAE, as well as Bahrain, have been offering people booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine to address efficacy concerns.
The UAE was thrown onto the UK’s ‘Red List’ in January over concerns about the Beta variant with all flights initially banned. Travel restrictions were eventually eased to allow direct flights from Red List countries but all arrivals go to a special airport terminal at Heathrow Airport where passengers are transported to quarantine hotels.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week urging him to significantly ease travel restrictions that he warned was out of step with European rivals and damaging the country’s economy.
Next week, the UK will welcome fully vaccinated travellers from the United States and European Union quarantine-free. Some experts have, however, warned that the policy presents a serious risk to public health.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.